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More than just man’s best friend

Cookie pulls Crystal Crosby.Cookie may not have the horsepower of her equine neighbors, but she can certainly imitate them.

With help from Crystal Crosby, Cookie’s amateur trainer and owner, the Australian Shepherd has learned to pull a buggy-like contraption with two wheels, a seat and reins.

“She’s really an intelligent dog,” said Ms. Crosby, 17, who first met Cookie at 8 weeks old.

Back in 2007, her father, Wayne Crosby, brought the puppy back from an Amish farm in Ohio as a birthday present for his daughter. He was struck by how well the breed followed commands and herded cattle on the farm.

“That’s what sold me on them, really,” said Mr. Crosby, who moved his family here from Jacksonville in 1999.

Even in the nearly 100-degree heat, Cookie had no problem getting strapped into a harness and towing Ms. Crosby up and down their gravel drive known as Penelope Lane south of Macclenny to show-off her skills on July 9.

The buggy and the harness that Cookie uses to pull it weigh about 30 pounds. They’re made by a Perry, GA-based company, Chalo Sulkey. The company’s motto: “Because dogs love to pull.”

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Independence Day Celebration in Macclenny Park

After the annual Independence Day celebration at Northeast Florida State Hospital was canned due to state budget cuts, local officials with the Chamber of Commerce, City of Macclenny and Baker County Commission organized a new festival at the city park on West Boulevard the evening of June 30. The event concluded with fireworks and featured more than 30 food, arts and crafts and entertainment vendors. Pictured are some of the many people and sites from that day. See more photos and order prints here.

Faith (left) and Vanessa Yale sing with their mother Marlayna Yale during karaoke.A blooming onion and many other fried foods were available to attendees.BBQ chef Robert Parker.

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Teen volunteers at nursing home during summer break

The Press will be profiling young volunteers in our community donating their time this summer to benefit others. At the end of the summer, we’ll also select the most dedicated volunteer and award them a prize. The first volunteer in the series is Keltni Davis, 15, of Macclenny. She’s the daughter of Felicia Hodges and Williams Davis.

Keltni Davis gives resident Alvin Melton a manicure.Keltni Davis hopes to study nursing one day, but she’s getting a head start this summer by volunteering at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.

Her mother works there, so Ms. Davis often tags along to spend time with patients. She reads to them, paints the nails of female residents, tidies up their rooms or serves refreshments and movies for them to keep them entertained.

“I really enjoy listening to their stories. They’re the absolute best story tellers,” said Ms. Davis, a soon-to-be 10th grader at Baker County High school, by e-mail last week.

She began volunteering at the facility at the request of her mother, but was enthusiastic about it nonetheless.

“Most teens wouldn’t want to spend their time volunteering, especially their summer vacation!” Ms. Davis wrote. “However, I enjoy volunteering at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.”

When she’s not volunteering, the youth enjoys spending time with family and friends and “soaking up the sun’s rays at the beach.”

After high school, Ms. Davis plans to study nursing in college and pursue a career in pediatrics.

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New vets council forming

A new group — the Baker County Veterans Council — is forming to help support local veterans and their families.

Tony Esterling, director of the Baker County Veterans Affairs office, said the council aims to recruit veterans and their families to join forces and assist other area veterans in any way they can, whether it’s financial help, mowing a widow’s lawn or guiding a veteran to employment or housing.

The council recently raised money to help a disabled veteran who lost his job and was in danger of losing his home, Mr. Esterling said.

The council is seeking nonprofit status through the Internal Revenue Service, which among other benefits will allow donors to write-off their charitable gifts and reduce their federal tax liability.

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